June 14th, 2024

City council passes Capital Improvement Program

By Tim Kalinowski on June 2, 2021.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDtkalinowski@lethbridgeherald.com

City council passed its 2022-2031 capital improvement program, which includes funding for a green bin program and new electric buses over the next five years as two of the highlights, with surprisingly little debate during Tuesday’s meeting.
The vote comes two weeks after Coun. Blaine Hyggen asked his council colleagues for a two-week postponement on approval of the CIP budget to allow more community feedback on the proposed projects being funded.
Hyggen, who voted against a sizeable chunk of the recommended spending measures as a member of the Economic Standing Policy Committee, perhaps unsurprisingly, said he could not support a CIP budget which contained so many things he disagreed with.
However Coun. Joe Mauro, who controversially left SPC deliberations in a personal protest over process three days into deliberations, also chose to vote against the CIP budget on Tuesday as a member of council.
Mauro defended his decision to vote on the CIP budget despite, he admitted, getting some opposition from community members on his original decision to walk out on the Economic SPC three weeks ago.
“I chose to remove myself,” he said, “and that was a committee. I think I have the right to do so. At least I stated my reasons why I just didn’t show up. I stated my reasons why, and I still believe in those reasons. This had nothing to do with what out there some people are saying. So let me make it clear: I have always stated that I do not believe one council should pass a CIP budget, and another council has to accept and approve the operating budget that goes with that.”
Mayor Chris Spearman, who sponsored the motion to adopt the CIP as recommended by the Economic SPC and later amended by council during the May 24 council meeting, said all city councillors can be proud of the balance they struck in supporting necessary projects in the community and leaving a substantial amount of money (nearly $15 million) unallocated in the CIP fund for the next council to have access to.
“We think we needed to give administration time to do planning to move projects ahead, and we didn’t want to miss a construction year,” Spearman said. “We didn’t want to have a hesitation; especially as we came out of the pandemic. We want to make sure our economy is going on all cylinders. In the end, the impact (of these decisions) on the operating budget was less than one quarter of one per cent in a year of the projects we approved. It was minimal. I think we demonstrated fiscal responsibility that will help the next council start off on the right foot.”
The 2022-2031 CIP budget passed by a vote of 7-2.

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